The ICRR Air Ambulance. (Photo by Paul Daly)

A local fox hunting group has raised money to help keep the Cork Air Ambulance project flying. 

Ireland’s first charity funded Air Ambulance based in North Cork, has suffered a massive funding shortfall. 

The chopper is operated by Irish Community Rapid Response (ICRR) and staffed by National Ambulance Service medical personnel. It ceased service on April 3 because of lack of funding.

Galtee Foxhounds members saw the benefit of the air ambulance as it helped someone who had fallen from a horse and so they decided to give money to the charity. 

Kevin Casey said that his group had raised €2,600 for the group and called on other charities to keep the ICRR in mind for charitable donations.

“Each flight costs €3,000. There is no money coming in from various charities to the helicopter now. We normally do a fundraiser for a different charity every year and this year we thought the air ambulance was a very worthy cause. We have been talking to other hunt people across the country and it has been the one that was called on.

“We raised the money at a charity auction that we held in Kilcoran Lodge recently with myself acting as auctioneer,” Kevin said.

“There was a person who was attending the hunt ball who had availed of the services after falling from his horse. That wasn’t from our hunt club but from elsewhere in the country. That inspired us really to fundraise,” Kevin explained.

The Covid-19 crisis has hit the helicopter’s efforts to fundraise and the Galtee Foxhounds were unable to hold a special event for the handover of the cheque.  

“There was a plan to do a presentation but, under the current Covid-19 regulations, we couldn’t do that. We had to scrap that idea so we transferred the money to them.

“We would like to push it out there to inspire other organisations and individual to donate a few bob because it is a very worthy cause.”

“We have thirty members, we hunt from Kilcoran to Mitchelstown and other surrounding areas. We wanted to say a big thanks to the people who support us and the land owners – we wouldn’t be able to do this without them.

We would just like to send our best to all of them and we’ll be looking forward to getting back out when the Covid-19 crisis goes away.”

Much needed service

The Air Ambulance service has flown over 351 missions in just under 8 months since it began operating the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service. 

Operations Manager for the charity Ruth Bruton, said the board at ICRR are distraught at having to cease operations. 

“We are incredibly upset that lives will be lost due to the grounding of this service at this time, especially given how vital frontline medical support is during the Covid-19 pandemic and how incredibly successful the service has been to date.”